This review was actually written circa 2018 for my Goodreads account but I've had a hankering to re-read so I wanted to post it on here in case I can pique anyone else's interest!
It rained the day they brought us to Thurmond, and it went on to rain straight through the week, and the week after that.
About a week ago I was finally able to pick up the three novellas that accompany this series. After reading them and remembering how good Bracken’s writing was, I decided I needed to reread the entire trilogy. I had missed a world with Ruby, Liam, Chubs, Vida, and Zu.
That girl was gone forever, and all that was left was a product of the place that had taught her to fear the bright things inside of her heart.
The thing that I love about this series so much is how unique of a premise it is. In an America that we are familiar with geographically and historically, a new virus spreads. It affects younger kids; leaving them dead or with certain powers. Once the government realizes how dangerous the ones who have been left alive could be, they build camps. Horrible, horrible camps for these children to live in. The general public thinks that their children are being “reformed”—that they will someday come back to them normal. If only they knew. Because such a huge chunk of the population was affected by this virus, the country is essentially in chaos and on the brink of collapsing entirely.
“Time to carpe the hell out of this diem.”
Ruby is the first main character that the reader is acquainted with. We are with her as she is taken to the camp, broken out of the camp, and as she meets up with Liam, Zu, and Chubs. While I have seen a lot of people in reviews who dislike Ruby, I couldn’t disagree more. She starts out as a weak character, yes, but she grows. I think part of the reason that I love her so much is that I can relate to her. Growing up, I was always a follower—not a leader. I had a strong willed best friend that I kind of hid behind, just as Ruby had Sam in the camp. I kept my head down and let her do all the talking. However, once Ruby got out of the camp and came to be with the Black Betty crew, she gained a purpose and started to become brave. Now I am a wimp…for the most part. If you stuck me in a dystopian world, I would most likely die pretty quickly (LOL). However, me being the eldest child in my family, if I was in said dystopian world with my siblings, I would leave the follower attitude behind and do whatever I needed to do keep my family alive. And I truly think this is Ruby. This is how she operates and it is why I understand her and empathize with her character.
“Did you know…you make me so happy that sometimes I actually forget to breathe? I’ll be looking at your, and my chest will get so tight…and it’s like the only thought in my head is how much I want to reach over and kiss you.”
Besides Ruby, I think that her supporting cast is just as amazing. Zu is adorable and I was so glad that I finally got to read her novella. Finding out what happened while she left End River was…hard. Chubs of course is Chubs. He’s an old soul who is pretty cranky all of the time but will protect those he loves ferociously. I felt so bad knowing the kind of potential he had but the fact that he couldn’t go to school to nurture that, broke my heart. I felt for ALL of them. Completely robbed of their childhoods…This would be a horrifying world to behold.
“Cause, frankly, the way I see it, you and me? Inevitable.”
Oh. Liam. Don’t worry, I could never forget about sweet Liam. He’s probably in my top five of BBFs (book boyfriends) EVER. He’s the only boy whose Southern accent I find charming, let me tell you. I think the romance he had with Ruby was perfect. It may have come on faster than what could be realistic, but in a messed up, dystopian world like that…I’ll let it slide. And anyway, the romance itself was such a sweet one. Liam helps Ruby feel wanted…feel grounded…feel like she has a home. It’s never overdone, never too much. He’s not a bad boy, there isn’t some sort of horrible misunderstanding between them. He is genuinely good and I found that, in this book and with Ruby, to be perfect.♥
Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people shall never be destroyed.
Overall, this will always be one of my favorite series. From the plot, to the writing, to the characters, this book has always managed to sink its claws into me. Recommended to anyone who loves Sci-fi-dystopian-esque YA.
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